Alerted by friends who witnessed his arrest on the morning of 4 September, Ngo Van Dung’s family tried to reach him on his mobile phone only to receive a message saying simply that he had been arrested by the police in Ho Chi Minh City’s Ben Nghe district.
Dung’s wife, who like him lives 400 km away in Dak Lak province, travelled to Ho Chi Minh City and visited several police stations there before being told anything about his fate. She was finally told he had been transferred to the public security forces in his home province. But the Dak Lak police deny this.
“We call on the Vietnamese authorities to clarify Ngo Van Dung’s situation,” said Daniel Bastard, the head of RSF’s Asia-Pacific desk. “By holding a citizen in a manner that is completely arbitrary and contrary to all legal procedure, the government has yet again shown, if further proof were needed, its deep contempt for any notion of the rule of law.
“Vietnam’s commercial partners must draw the necessary conclusions. In particular, we urge members of the European parliament to delay ratification of the free trade agreement with Vietnam that was supposed to have been voted before the end of the year.”
Dung is a member of the Reviving Vietnam Campaign (Chan Hung Nuoc Viet), a pro-democracy movement whose demands include the “right to freedom of the press and access to information,” as enshrined in article 25 of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam’s constitution.
Dung provided video coverage of protests against the creation of special economic zones in June, after previously posting a video analysing the blogger Tran Thi Nga’s nine-year jail sentence on a charge of anti-state propaganda in July 2017, which RSF condemned at the time. Nga has become a symbol of the current Communist Party leadership’s unrelenting crackdown on the freedom to inform.
Vietnam has been near the bottom of RSF's World Press Freedom Index for years and is currently ranked 175th out of 180 countries.